Many folks are going through real challenges in their lives these days. If that is you, here is a story that I think might inspire you and us today. Author Charles Donoghue (www.charlesdonogue.com) gave me permission to use this story.
A young woman told her mother about how difficult her life was. She said she was tired of struggling. Her mother took her to the kitchen, filled three pots with water, and placed each on the stove. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first pot, she put carrots; in the second pot, she placed an egg: and in the last pot, she poured in ground coffee. Without saying a word, the mother let all three pots come to a boil.
Then she turned off the burners, fished the carrots out of the pot, and placed them in a bowl. Then she pulled the egg out of the pot and put it in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee grounds out of the pot and placed the grounds in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?” “Carrots, an egg, and coffee,” she replied.
Then the mother brought her daughter closer and asked her to feel the carrots. The carrots were soft. Next, the mother then asked her daughter to take the egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Then the mother asked her daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she smelled the aroma and sipped the coffee. “So, what does all of this mean?” the daughter asked.
Her mother observed that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. And, each of the objects reacted differently to the trouble. Each carrot went into the boiling water strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after subjected to boiling water, each softened and became weak. The egg initially was fragile, its thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior, but after subjected to boiling water, its inside became hardened. But the ground coffee was different than the carrots and the egg. Why? After the coffee had been subjected to boiling water, the coffee had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that seems strong, but with the onslaught of adversity become soft and lose your strength? Are you an egg that starts with a gentle heart, but becomes hard when subjected to heat? Or are you like ground coffee? When in hot water, ground coffee transforms the very circumstance that produced the discomfort.”
Can you see the wisdom and lesson in this story? Hot water releases the fragrance and flavor of ground coffee. If you are like ground coffee, when things are at their worst, you become your best, even changing the situation around you. That is a blessing for you and those around you.
The real challenge is when the moment or circumstance or event is darkest, and the trial is hardest, will you transport yourself to another level upwards? Are you a carrot, an egg, or ground coffee? God chooses what we go through. We decide how we go through it. When the heat comes in your life - and it will - get God involved. If you don't seek God in your crisis, you will never seek God in your success. Turn the mess into a message by making the right choices and accessing God's awesome power. And, for your sake, the future's sake, and for heaven's sake, don't get a bad attitude. Attitude is like a flat tire. Change it, or you are not going anywhere.
Jesus was like heaven’s ground coffee while on earth. Hot water only served to bring out His best. For example, when people were at their worst, Jesus was at His best. When circumstances were at the worst, Jesus was at His best. When the future seemed hopeless, Jesus brought hope. When real faith had been all but lost in religion and rituals, Jesus brought real faith back to people. When life was upside down for the downcast and distraught, Jesus turned that life right-side up. When people were misguided and lost, Jesus brought in clarity and direction.
Remember the story of the woman caught in adultery and the religious people wanted to stone her? Jesus stepped into the situation and brought grace and elevated the direction for both the woman and the religious bunch. He brought God into the fray. Jesus, armed with God’s wisdom, turned to the angry crowd, and said, "Which of you that is without sin, cast the first stone." The group quickly dispersed. Then he forgave the woman and said, "Go, and sin no more." The crowd demonstrated the carrot. Jesus cautioned the woman not to play the egg. Do you see this? When the angry mob and the woman were at their worst, Jesus was at his best. He defused a hot situation by teaching a lesson of grace and a potential win-win for both sides.
Look around you. There is a heap of people out there in the carrot and egg category. Rather than joining them, influence them. Just like Jesus, elevate the conversation, attitude, and atmosphere, wherever you are.
When people, circumstances, and attitudes are at their worst, be your best!